Last week, right before the main event of this year’s EVO tournament, millions of Street Fighter fans — including yours truly — were treated to a trailer featuring the highly-anticipated Street Fighter V debut of the hulking Abigail. Previously the penultimate boss of Capcom’s signature beat-em-up Final Fight (aka Street Fighter ’89, for you millennials™), longtime fans were expecting…well…big things from Abigail.
Here’s what we got that night:
…rumor has it, some jaws are still on the ground.
Response to Abigail has been…polarizing…to say the least. Ranging from “HAHA I LOVE THIS GUY” to “WTF CAPCOM U SUK”, Street Fighter fans leaned more toward the latter, mostly in response to his cartoonishly exaggerated physique.
How much did they lean, exactly? Let’s have a look, as of the time this article was published:
WHEN THE FIRST IMPRESSION IS THE WORST IMPRESSION
Since it seems the only person more disliked than Abigail at this point is Donald Trump, was Abby actually the biggest miss of the Street Fighter V cast to date? Sure seemed that way — at least, until this past week’s Winner Stays On (WSO) character showcase courtesy of Capcom Fighters, which allowed us a more in-depth look at the Beast of the Bay Area. Like many, I also watched it live and it was quite interesting to see opinions on Abigail change in real time over the course of three hours. By the end of the stream, two things were absolutely certain: (1) Abigail is doper than anyone thought, and (2) that wasn’t the same Abigail we saw in the trailer.
Turns out, the character shot in the trailer footage was post V-Trigger Abigail, allegedly due to an error which kept him in that state for the duration of the footage. A state, which actually pumps him up even further.
The difference was rather hard to miss for WSO viewers, as demonstrated by reddit user galkatokk:
Okay, so it was a snafu. The trailer was clearly wrong, and with the WSO showcase we can finally embrace Abigail as a worthy addition to an exciting roster, right?
Well, I’m glad to say some players have. Unfortunately, far more remain unconvinced. That’s fine; Abigail doesn’t have to be everyone’s cup of Tim Horton’s.
But check out this take: For those people, maybe this isn’t about Abigail.
Maybe, this is simply about Street Fighter V.
“What? How can you be so sure?”
Glad you asked because, well, here’s the thing:
I’ve already lived through this.
LET’S TALK ABOUT A WEIRD LITTLE GAME FROM 1997
For those of you who don’t listen to the Noncast, I assure you: You’re not getting a take from some wet-behind-the-ears intern. Much like this year’s EVO Champion, Tokido, I’ve also been playing Street Fighter since before Punk was born. Since Street Fighter II: World Warrior (yes, that was painful to type, but it’s fine since I cry in the shower), specifically. Anyway, this series didn’t house just my favorite fighting games, but at various points, my favorite video games. One such point, was 20 years ago — the very first time I played Street Fighter III. Or specifically, Street Fighter III: New Generation.
As of 2017, we live in a time where Street Fighter III characters are — for the most part — beloved. You’ve seen them in the Street Fighter IV series with the likes of Dudley, Ibuki, Elena, etc. and you see them today with the triumphant returns of Alex and Urien. But hey kids, do you know where you didn’t see them?
…unless of course, you were a lucky kid passing a video store somewhere on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
So here’s some perspective: The Internet as we know it, did not exist in 1997. Unless you had the right…I dunno…Electronic Gaming Monthly, you had no idea what was on the horizon in the world of fighting games. So, to the neighborhood, Street Fighter III itself, was a little more than a rumor. No one could confirm or deny it’s existence…until with a quarter in my hand, I walked into that random video store and came face to face with this shit:
It was REAL.
So, I played it for about two weeks with a few select friends while everyone else was still playing Street Fighter Alpha 2 at the much closer video store by our projects. Two weeks, because the store that housed Street Fighter III closed down.
But in the time I played the game, I remember feeling very lost. Here I am, about four years into playing the Street Fighter II series, two years into playing (what I thought was) it’s replacement — the Alpha series, and only Ryu and Ken are in this game that’s supposed to be the third one??
Then the AI parried me and I lost my quarter.
Fuck it, back to Alpha 2 for me.
It would be a few months before the Alpha 2 machine was replaced by the SFIII: 2nd Impact machine, and a couple of Hugo infinites later, the rest was history. That’s right — there were TWO Street Fighter III games before 3rd Strike. Surprise, I guess. Anyway, Alpha 3 came our way, everyone saw their old characters and SFIII was dead. Of course I’d end up finding 3rd Strike in some dingy arcade somewhere in Chinatown but who cares about that.
The point is, when presented with the familiar, players rejected the exciting-yet-frightening new series. With it’s SUPER WEIRD-LOOKING NOT RYU OR KEN characters, what eventually became heralded by players the finest Street Fighter experience possible died on the vine because Sagat wasn’t in it and you couldn’t do more than one super. Never forget that part.
Welcome to 2017!
SF V IS IRONICALLY, SF III FOR A NEW GENERATION
This is where we are now.
It’s no secret a large portion of today’s Street Fighter players came on board with SFIV (often referred to collectively by the derogatory term “09ers”) and to them, that series is what Street Fighter II was to me. Make no mistake, it’s an almost embarrassingly-close relative of Super Turbo because for all intents and purposes — IV was every bit the payload II was only under different make-or-break circumstances. SFV, much like III, is the result of comfort. Rocky launch aside, at it’s core, SFV is a game that knows what it is right off the bat. It’s a game that’s made for unconventional characters like FANG (remember that weirdo?), Ed, and Abigail because its refined, stylish, and most importantly experimental environment allows it.
Personally? I find SFV more satisfying than SFIV ever was, and as evidenced by SFIII legends returning to competition after sharing similar sentiment, I’m not the only one. Hey, SFIV had a LOT going on, y’all. By the time Ultra Street Fighter IV released, you could have sworn it was made by Arc System Works with the amount of conflicting systems you had to keep track of (Why even have Supers, SFIV?).
But I get it: Street Fighter IV is their Street Fighter, and a character like Abigail is a big enough (wink nudge) lightning rod to capture whatever criticisms they have about the direction of the franchise as they know it.
I’m just saying it’s only going to get more unconventional from here.
With that knowledge? Listen, let’s just do like EVO and have fun playing the game. Just because it’s not exactly what you want right now doesn’t make it a fundamentally bad game. The strangest part Street Fighter fans tend to forget, even as we’re merely two years removed from Ultra Street Fighter IV: Capcom eventually delivers what you want. If that weren’t true, we wouldn’t be talking about a Street Fighter V.
So don’t do what us pre-IV players did — don’t let another 20 years pass before you realize how good you had it over silly things like a tall character’s head obscuring a lifebar:
Shit, wrong Andore sprite.